Writers remember Randy Levine glee beating then fine and well-liked Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang in arbitration
- Wang defeat ($600,000) in arbitration Yankee omen
Finally, after a winter filled with losses — from the bitter departure of a legendary manager to the reputations of a pair of iconic pitchers — the Yankees notched a win so significant team president Randy Levine dashed off
- a crowing press release the moment it had been recorded.
Even though the victory came against the team's own pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang.
In an arbitration case both sides could have avoided.
You can't make this stuff up.
Especially when it comes from the mind of Levine, who provided the latest example of how the proudest franchise in sports can look so
- utterly shameless lately.
"It was a little disappointing, that's all," Wang's agent, Alan Nero, said of the bizarre release announcing the Yankees were "gratified and happy to prevail in this arbitration hearing" against a pitcher who is pivotal to their ability to win on the field. "The whole (arbitration) process is not something anyone should be proud of."
Who was to blame for the failure to split a $600,000 difference can be debated — as it was by Nero and GM Brian Cashman in interviews with the Times Herald-Record.
Either way, most arbitration cases are settled so a club doesn't have to go through the unseemly process of attacking its own player in a hearing that he attends.
So it certainly isn't something that should be boasted about. Such bragging could not only make players in the Yankees' clubhouse roll their eyes — it could eventually make free agents scratch their heads a little more about coming here.
Is that likely? Of course not. But if times change and winning is harder to come by, these types of moments — along with all those lovely Hank Steinbrenner sound bytes — could eventually matter.
A checkbook alone will not solve that problem — just ask teams like the Orioles, who couldn't counter their egotistical owner, Peter Angelos, in the late '90s, even when he was trying to throw cash away.
And with a slew of young prospects the Yankees are banking on for the present and future the Yankees might want to stop setting precedents of challenging their best players to fight for every dime.
Especially since they usually end up paying more later anyway.
Wang, thanks to his robotic ability to focus, should "be fine" as Mariano Rivera said — even though the closer remembered his own arbitration hearing as "not fun."
And Wang said he would ignore the Yankees' arbitration complaints that he didn't strike out enough people and "stay the same." That's good
- since his game is getting doubleplays.
But one Yankee player said eventually this type of classless move by Levine "could tick someone off" and you could lose the player.
Again, you can debate whose fault it was the Yankees even ended up in arbitration with Wang over a mere $600,000, paying him $4 million instead of $4.6.
Nero said he would have accepted $4.3 million or a little less. Cashman said that offer was made only at the last minute after three counterproposals had been turned down and they paid legal fees to go to arbitration.
"By that time, it was too late," said Cashman, who insisted, "We didn't want to be in this thing."
Said Nero: "The whole process was very disappointing. The effort on their part was minimal at best."
Such disagreements surely led to Levine's gloating, which sounded like one of the confetti-laced
- statements the Yankees used to reserve for World Series titles around here.
And added to the list of classless moves he's made that have turned off Yankees fans.
Last fall, he alienated fans as the face of the Joe Torre debacle.
Nearly four years ago, he alienated anyone with a working heartbeat and common sense when he called for the Devil Rays to forfeit a game because "¦
They were late due to travel problems caused by a hurricane.
In any case, maybe Levine just got a little too excited about the prospect of the Yankees accomplishing something they hadn't done since 2000, the last time they went to arbitration.
Maybe he just needed someone to remind him he shouldn't confuse that victory with the Yankees' last World Series win, which came that same year."
List of people it took to beat Chien-Ming Wang out of $600,000 including 3 people from the commissioner's office:
""We are gratified and happy to have prevailed in this arbitration hearing," Yankees president Randy Levine said in a statement. "It is important to recognize and thank our entire team for their hard work throughout this process, including
- Brian Cashman,
- Jean Afterman and
- Mike Fishman from the Yankees,
- Rich Rabin,
- Ken Shaitelman and
- Kelly Brown from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, and
- Dan Halem and
- Paul Mifsud from the Commissioner's Office."
- Stephen Goldberg,
- Jack Clarke and
- Christine Knowlton,
- Heyman notes Wang's representatives didn't have their arguments lined up. Noted for the record but a separate issue.
- From Times-Tribune (Scranton) article by D. Collins, "Yanks Win Arbitration Case But...", by D. Collins, 2/17/08 (I copied and saved this article when it was published. Link defaults to current page. ed.)
- Not because he has played two full seasons in the majors, won 19 games in both of them and is still the least-talked about of his team’s six starting pitchers. But because the Yankees beat him in an arbitration case this week, saved themselves a paltry $600,000
- and partied like it was 1996.
- “We are gratified and happy to have prevailed in this arbitration hearing ...”
- “It is important to recognize and thank our entire team for their hard work throughout this process, including ...”
- Since available copy inches are precious in this newspaper, I’ll spare you Levine’s thank-you list. Let’s just say it included the requisite number of role players a middling organization would need to chop down a mighty 27-year-old Taiwanese pitcher: Three Yankees front-office types, bigwigs from the Commissioner’s office and a handful of attorneys from the firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, LLP — who, we can assume, weren’t working the case pro bono.
- The Yankees offered Wang a $4 million contract to avoid arbitration. Wang countered with $4.6 million.
- Thank goodness we can still count on someone in this country for fiscal responsibility. Make a budget and stick to it. Always been the Yankee Way.
- At least Levine is sportsman-enough to shake an opponent’s hand and let bygones be bygones after a tough, sweaty arbitration hearing.
- While the $4 million might be the most ever awarded by an arbiter, it’s not the most ever given to a first-year arbitration-eligible player. Dontrelle Willis got $4.35 million in 2006. And he hasn’t had two seasons in his career as good as the last two for Wang.
- The last part may be true, but I wonder about the first part.
- It’s disgraceful.
- From Times-Tribune (Scranton) article by D. Collins, "Yanks Win Arbitration Case But...", by D. Collins, 2/17/08 (I copied and saved the article when it was published. The link now seems to default to the current date. ed.)